Imagine for a moment that you have only ever heard God’s word in a language other than the one you speak with your family and friends. Suppose the only time you have heard the Bible read to you it has been in French or Spanish. You probably wouldn’t understand very much and you certainly wouldn’t think the Bible was relevant to you….. Yet this is the experience of these Bara children, and that of many people in Madagascar. Particularly in the south, pastors and priests are realising that when they read the Bible aloud in the national language, many in their congregation don’t understand – one Tandroy priest says it is like a foreign language to them – and so God’s message can’t really penetrate. Recent linguistic research shows that more than 13 forms of Malagasy need to be considered for translation if the gospel is to be effectively communicated to the whole population.
The Luke Partnership Project, (a partnership of local churches and several missions, including Wycliffe and The Seed Company) has been training national translators and so far booklets of parables from Luke and versions of the ‘Jesus Film’ have been produced in 5 Malagasy dialects, including Bara and Tandroy, and translation of the whole of Luke’s gospel is also nearing completion. Some of the teams hope to go on to translate other books. Meanwhile translators for a further 5 Malagasy forms are being trained.
Thank you, Father, that you sent your Son, Jesus, to show us what you are like, wherever we live and whatever language we speak. Thank you that the Bara and Tandroy people are excited to begin to hear your Word in their heart language and to have a film about Jesus in their own language! Please reveal yourself to them more and more and make them hungry to have more of your Word in their language.
LORD, please help the teams to choose the right expressions to translate important Biblical concepts like ‘prophet’, ‘forgiveness’ and ‘Spirit’ and give wisdom to consultants as they train and advise the translators.
May the translated Scriptures penetrate deep into the hearts of each Malagasy people group and be a source of greater unity among the churches.